Letter from the CEO
Confronted by rising costs, constrained resources and a challenging technology roadmap, the semiconductor industry continues to face difficult technology and investment choices. To remain competitive, companies must decrease the time to market for new innovations while controlling escalating R&D and capital costs. A wrong bet can easily cost millions or even billions of dollars in lost time, resources and market share.
The competitive landscape is further complicated by the structural changes that have occurred in our industry as vertical integration has given way to increased segmentation and specialization. While this may have solved many business issues, it has also created new visibility, coordination and affordability challenges.
This evolution has heightened the need for collaboration and the semiconductor community has responded by developing new ways to work together on major transitions in device structures, patterning, materials and manufacturing. Successful introduction of new technologies now depends on a broader and deeper industrial collaboration, aligning key stakeholders across the industry ecosystem—including the systems, IDM, fabless, foundry, packaging and assembly, equipment, materials, and electronic design automation (EDA) communities.
Here at SEMATECH, this type of interdependent approach to technology development is evident in several novel initiatives that address the transitions to extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, 3D through silicon via (TSV) interconnects and 450 mm wafers.
Collaborative programs such as the EUV Mask Infrastructure (EMI) Partnership and 3D Enablement Center have been created to pool resources to achieve a timely, cost-effective technology introduction. The EMI effort has connected multiple segments of the EUV supply chain in a partnership to collectively fund the development of needed metrology tools by equipment suppliers, while the 3D Enablement Center has brought together companies from across the industry to accelerate progress on 3D IC standards, specifications and reference flows.
Additionally, the manufacturing and cost pressures of the transition to 450 mm have created an industry-wide need for further pre-competitive collaboration between device makers, consortia, and equipment and materials manufacturers. Building on ISMI’s five-year 450 mm infrastructure program, the recently announced industry-government-university partnership, called the Global 450 mm Consortium, will provide new resources and funding to collaboratively work with suppliers to develop 450 mm equipment.
Projecting forward, as we push into the sub-14 nm realm, how will industry collaborations change as we tackle difficult challenges such as heterogeneous packaging, 3D device structures, nanodefectivity and 450 mm? In 2016 and beyond, the opportunities and challenges of heterogeneous integration, 3D metrology, nanodefects, and the post-450 mm era will require new innovations—not only in technology and manufacturing, but also in the business of collaboration.
At SEMATECH, we feel confident the lessons we have learned from 25 years of successful industry collaboration will help us harness the power of cooperation in new ways as we continue to adopt new strategies to forge new common ground—spanning more broadly across regions, extending more deeply into the supply chain, cutting across technology disciplines, and optimizing the use of shared industry R&D centers.
President and CEO, SEMATECH